Your new film The
Los Angeles Ripper - in a few words, what is it about?
It is a serial killer movie. It's about a dirtbag junkie psychopath
who spends his days doing nothing. He wanders around Los Angeles playing
video games. A loser basically. Like the tag line says, "He's not working
he's lurking!" When he gets bored or the need to fulfill his warped sexual
impulses he seeks out prostitutes and eventually kills them. He then meets
Kristy White through her cokehead cousin, and Randy is interested in her
for some reason? Does he have a crush on her? Or does he want to kill her
like the prostitutes?
What were your main inspirations for The
Los Angeles Ripper?
After my first movie (A
Few Screws Loose) and all the problems I had to get it finished I
was excited to start on something new. I think I even started writing it
before A Few Screws
Loose was done for screening. Again I'm producing it. Which means
it is no-budget again. I started thinking what I was gonna do? I didn't
want to do another serial killer movie right after A
Few Screws Loose so I figured I would go with this
demon/possession movie I want to do or a feature length version of a short
film I did called Nutcase, which is a ghoul/zombie type of movie
with a bit of a Shockwaves-type
of vibe. I was thinking of some other ideas that were monsters and ghouls
and such, but in the back of my head my main goal was to get another movie
done semi-fast - and looking at special make-up prosthetics and creatures
every shoot day would take a lot of time, money, and assistance. Who knows
how long it would have took to get all the special FX ready? And when you
are dealing with low/no budget productions and people are doing stuff for
very little or no pay you wanna make sure you don't waste their whole
weekends. You wanna get the stuff shot and let them get out of there.
Right away I tossed the idea of heavy FX make-ups. I said screw it I'll do
another serial killer movie. It's one step closer to doing my serial
I wanted to do a more grimy realistic type of killer who doesn't look
cool or wear a wicked mask. Of course, 1970-1980's serial killer movies
Portrait of a Serial Killer, Don't Go in the House, Last
House on the Left, and The
New York Ripper. Even Death Wish 2! All those movies
with the sleazy gritty scumbags. The Van was a huge influence. It's
actually a creepy and sleazy movie. It's kinda promoted as a teen coming
of age story but it's drunk driving, luring girls into the van and
assaulting them, and save a whale harpoon a fat chick-humor...
he's a step
away from a serial killer/rapist or something. Also believe it or not I
found inspiration in 1980's comedy movies too. Rewatch those! A
bunch of knuckle heads stalking the girl of their dreams like in Valley
Girl or Revenge of the Nerds. Robert Carradine's
character steals the costume of the boyfriend of the girl he's hot
for and basically rapes her! Bananas! It wasn't just serial killer movies
that were an influence.That being said, there was a lot of real influence
from everyday life in the movie, from the news, drug addicts and scumbags,
people I know, and the weirdos one encounters everyday were the
The character of Grahm in The
Los Angeles Ripper is so unlikeable (even when he's not killing
people) it's almost ingenious. Where did the inspiration for the character
come from, what can you tell us about his actor Randy Tobin [Randy
Tobin interview - click here], and is Randy
even remotely like Grahm?
I love this question because Randy Tobin and I really strive for this.
We didn't want to portray Grahm as cool or powerful. He's a scumbag! We
wanted people to hate him. We hated him as we created him! As soon as I
knew that I was going to make The
Los Angeles Ripper
I called Randy to see
if he was interested, and he was. We started meeting up and talking about
the movie and his character. I let him borrow a few books I have on
killers, criminals, robbers, maniacs, serial killers etc etc.. We also
talked about some real life shady characters I know and have encountered.
We really got into their weird habits and idiosyncrasies. It was a lot of
fun. We basically took a little pinch of this messed up person and a bit
of this maniac until he started becoming one person. It took many nights
of meeting up and really fine tuning Grahm. Randy is a great actor. He
really thinks about what he's doing. Like most movies we didn't shoot in
sequence and there are very different levels of Grahm's emotions through
the movie. Mainly anger but a whole range of emotions - and let's not forget
Grahm's mentally ill. Randy really was aware of Grahm's mental state all
through the movie. Very impressive. So to answer the second part of your
question. No! Randy is nothing like Grahm. He's a husband and a father. He
is really nice and funny. He's a good friend of mine. People always say to
me "Randy's cool" or "I like that guy Randy" I doubt
Grahm would ever get those compliments. People head for the hills when
Grahm comes around!
Celeste Matrinez faces
Since you have talked about
Randy Tobin, you also have to talk about Celeste Martinez and her good
girl/ultimate victim character Kristy!
Celeste is also a great actress. We met up and discussed her character
also. We really did go for an almost perfect person without the over the
top miss goodie two shoes thing. It was the exact opposite of Grahm. We
really wanted people to like her and I think they do. We did not have to
get into so many little details with her. She doesn't have a dark side.
Maybe she smoked pot or made out with a girl but nothing nasty or mean
spirited in her past. And she nailed it! I think she made it unique and it
could have been a different kind of movie if she was not in it. She also
has great body language as an actor. I really noticed that while editing
and watching it 150 times. Celeste is a bit like Kristy. She is nice and
Both Randy Tobin
and Celeste Martinez are credited with providing additional dialogue for
Los Angeles Ripper. How big was their contribution to their
characters and the movie?
Very big. I haven't used a
conventional script since my short films. I learned with no/low budget
productions, you would never get a thing done if that script had to be
what's exactly on paper. When you don't have any money to throw at
problems you have to learn to make changes and keep the story the same.
You may have to drop a character for some reason or another? They might
quit? They might get a good paying gig and can't work for free anymore?
Little things that could set you back for months or years if you can't get
over what you wrote in stone. I do write these movies. There is a lot of
actual dialogue I write in there but not all of it. My scripts for A
Few Screws Loose and The
Los Angeles Ripper are half sketch books and half notebooks. If
you really think about it, 75 percent of movies sound like people reciting
memorized lines. You gotta be a little loose with the dialogue. And from
creating this crazy world that actors get to play with comes stuff that
you could never create in advance. If you are gonna ask someone to be a
character in a movie I think you should let them live it and not worrying
about memorizing some written thing. Bare in mind you can't just go crazy
all the time if you are telling a story. Certain things have to be said to
tell a story. Some words are important to me and they gotta be said in a
certain way and that might be changed due to how the actor feels as a
character and they say something you wouldn't have thought of because they
are really getting into the character more than I have as a writer because
I'm not living as that person. They are. It's to your advantage most of
the time as long as the don't go to far off from the story - which good
actors do not.
A few words about the rest of
your cast and crew?
I gotta mention the post guys in England. Mark Charles Adams [Mark
Charles Adams interview - click here] and Luke Elliott. They did a ton of work on the color and sound. They really made
the movie professional. I really cannot explain all the work they did. It
just looks and sounds really good. Especially for the budget. Mark and
Luke's work really helped with the overall look of the movie, everything
was even. We could have gone over the top and did the old scratchy film
grindhouse thing and used that to our advantage but I didn't want it to
have an obvious look like that. That means a tougher job to clean up noise
and level out colors etc. Also Mark Adams and I edited scenes together, we
picked at them at different times. He even edited some scenes that I never
touched. He is a great editor so when I was stuck on stuff I would think,
I'll just let Mark do some of editing tricks and see what happens?
Everyone was really cool for helping me make the movie. The actors were
all really good for not having time to rehearse and being thrown into
crazy low budget movie making. Beverly Bassette who plays aunt Peggy did a
great job. With not much time to think about it she stands out as a
memorable character. Brandon Engstrom 'veI got to mention for doing the part
of the character BC. He had to walk around with bleached hair and a fake
tan for a few weeks and have people thinking that was his real look while
getting groceries and in line at the bank.Then the shoot got pushed so he
had the chance to back out of the fake tan which was lucky because the rub
on stuff is really messy. Devanny Pinn [Devanny
Pinn interview - click here], Chase Monroe, Nekromistress, I
could go on and on. I really appreciate everyone who did parts and helped
out in anyway to make The
Los Angeles Ripper.
There is quite a bit (as in lots of)
violence in The
Los Angeles Ripper. What can you tell us about your gore effects
as such, and was there ever a line you refused to cross, consciously?
Yes, the violence. It's funny some people are really disturbed by the
violence and some people brush it off as a Herschell Gordon Lewis so-bad-it's-funny
thing [Herschell Gordon
Lewis bio - click here]. Most who have that opinion are make-up
FX people or
people who are super fans of special effect make-up movies and genre
cinema. I'm happy with the FX! Most of the FX were done using old
materials I had around, I didn't have a budget to do really cool things
that would take a month in advance. I wish I could hire someone to do it
so I could concentrate on the movie. I can't so I was putting the stuff
together days before or a few weeks before on the more complicated stuff.
I think it helped the movie feel more real. No squiggly CG blood. It took
work to do these FX. Granted I was moving along quite quickly and was
moving forward. So with the budget and time we just kept steam rolling
through even if it did not work out perfectly. I was thinking of re-shooting a couple
FX-pieces but I learned from my first movie that doing
stuff like that when you don't have a budget could hold you back for a
month or maybe a few months if actors have to come back... I kinda like the
idea of leaving it as what you get that day of shooting - too much of that
stuff is ruining movies, the rewrites. Too much second-guessing things and
redoing, re-shooting things. Adding it in later on computer.
And yes I was trying to make them disturbing but I never was thinking
well let's do something really really shocking... I wanted to be subtle but
as some have pointed out my idea of what is subtle is probably pretty gory
compared to most.
contrast the violence, The
Los Angeles Ripper also contains extended sequences of Kristy's
singing classes. Now where did the inspiration for that come from?
obvious thing would have had her coming to Los Angeles to act, but I don't
like movies about actors much. Just flick on the TV and you'll notice people
are obsessed with this singing thing. Regular people who become music
artist. From American Idol, The Voice, America's
Got Talent and so on. I
thought it just fit with the times and it was an idea I had from the
beginning of writing The
Los Angeles Ripper. I liked the corniness and fun we could
have with it. Some people thought this scene was unintentional humor - and
that is due to how great the actors were. Delores Quintana is actually a
trained singer. I believe she does opera. She asked me how I wanted her to
play the singing teacher Miss Crabtree? I said as serious as possible and
I knew it would be funny. If she acted cartoony or tried to be obviously
funny or wacky it would not have been funny. In the movie Delores comes
across as a square 4th grade teacher you once had. She is actually pretty
rock and roll and listens to GG Allin. She is a terrific actor! People
think the singing class is so weird? This goofy singing is everywhere and
part of everyone's life. I think people don't like to think about how
silly it is in real life? So this scene really makes them feel
uncomfortable and the corniness is too much to handle.
of the title, and maybe the basic theme (an extremely violent killing
Los Angeles Ripper will probably forever be likened to The
New York Ripper by Lucio Fulci [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here]. Does this at all bother you, or was this
maybe even intended? And where do you see the main similarities and
differences between your film and Fulci's?
The title is an obvious shout-out to Lucio Fulci. I'm a big fan. I
think the difference is that The
New York Ripper
is a Giallo film, yeh?
It's not an American style slasher film. It is a very Italian film
pretending to be American. The
Los Angeles Ripper
is in the style of late
70's and early eighties slasher movies and true crime type of serial
killer horror movies.
I think the obvious over the top misogyny is similar and Fulci had some
fake make-up effects in the movie. He wasn't afraid to show some cheesy FX
and remind you that you were watching a movie. I think I took some cues
there from him. I think the sleaze factor is pretty similar. I took
some cues there also. I think the sleazy vibe of both movies are a set up
to feel uncomfortable. I don't think Fulci wanted the audience to like his
killer either. I do think he was saying fuck you to his critics and groups
of people that were bashing horror films. Fulci being punk.
How would you
describe your directorial approach to your subject at hand?
get good actors and you can worry more about what you're shooting and the
set ups and where it may fit into the movie as a whole. Like I was saying.
With the lead roles we talked a bit about the characters so we didn't need
to discuss that while we were filming. We fine tune the dialogue and get
warmed up while we shoot. I like the guerrilla style aesthetic and it is a
lot like painting or sculpting. You don't have it in your mind that you
will fix it in post or re-shooting it. You get what you get that day while
working. Until I have money that may change the playing field I have no
choice to this approach.
far as I know, The
Los Angeles Ripper has so far only played in a handful of
locations. What can you tell us about audience and critical reception so
The premiere had a very good response and people
genuinely liked it. The critics are a mixed bag but for the most part they
are positive. Even some of the bad reviews make it sound like some kind of
movie to be seen. There are some that are trying to bash it but you are
really just bashing it because it's low budget or because again it's low
budget because some of the FX gags didn't have 15000 grand put into it. I
think some of these guys think the movie's budget is much bigger than it
is. I think people are gonna eventually really like the movie once they
can get to see it.
The $64 question of course: When and where will The
Los Angeles Ripper be released onto the general public?
I'm talking to a few distributors about getting it out there. This is
all new to me, so in a way it is good it is a slow process. I hope
something works out, I really want to get it out there for people to see.
If nothing happens eventually I will need to self distribute I guess. I
have a good feeling so hopefully soon it will be out there.
would you compare The
Los Angeles Ripper to your debut feature A
Few Screws Loose?
They are both about serial killers and they are kind of sleazy. A
Few Screws Loose
was more experimental. More of an art project. I was gonna do it as an art
installation but that never came to be because of all the problems with
actors and technical things I got lost and I was sick of A
Few Screws Loose
finally finished the movie. Maybe I'll go back to it now? The
Los Angeles Ripper
is still a bit experimental, but in the end just a movie and not
part of an art installation plan.
Any future projects you'd like
to talk about?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I have the a rough script for a movie which is titled Future Punks
I don't wanna mention the real name just yet. It's not a serial killer
movie but it will be filled with psychos and scum bags and mutants of some
type. There will be blood and violence and good-looking girls. I have a
couple other ideas but I think I really want to do Future Punks. I still
got to deal with the The
Los Angeles Ripper, so I have some time to think about it.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
guess I will be working on a Moss Stomper web site soon for my movies... I
hope. For more information on The
Los Angeles Ripper please go to the Facebook page.
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
could have mentioned that The
Los Angeles Ripper has no digital FX! I'm
working on some screenings hopefully in the near future with some other
really cool movies. I hope it works out. I'll be back in Las Vegas with
Chad Clinton Freeman and Pollygrind in March 16 and 17 with both movies
showing at theatre 7. AFSL Friday. Then a screening of The
Los Angeles Ripper on Saturday (St. Patricks Day). Chad is great at supporting indie
cinema! Chad rules!
for the interview!
Thank you Michael! You too are a great
supporter of independent cinema and thanks for talking about The
Los Angeles Ripper!